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The 20 Worst Sports Injuries of All Time

Injuries are an ever present part of sports. The threat of injury is something that every athlete must live with as a hazard of the job. Certain injuries have become ingrained in the psyche of sports fans and have left indelible images of gruesome scenes in their minds. These injuries have signaled the end of some athlete’s careers, while others have managed to recover and take the field of play again. Regardless of their ability to return, the damage suffered at the hands and feet of their opposition serves as a permanent reminder of the dangers of sport.

Some injuries on this list have led to sports taking up revolutionary approaches in order to prevent them from happening again. These changes have come in the form of equipment alterations, new schemes of protection, and promoting increased awareness among athletes. The impact from some of these injuries continue to influence decisions made by front office executives and individual players. They serve as a brutal reminder that a career as a professional athlete is short and can be over in an instant.

As athletes become bigger, faster, and stronger, the impacts that take place on the field of play increase in severity. The human body can only endure so much stress before succumbing to its physical limitations. The following injuries have turned the stomachs of announcers, fans, and fellow athletes. A few of these injuries have sadly led to death. No athlete expects to die in the course of their occupation, but several have paid the ultimate price for their sports. This list is not for the faint of heart.

20 Tyrone Prothro

via tablet.sportingnews.com

19 Borje Salming

via pikdit.com

18 J.A. Happ

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

17 Allan Ray

via ballislife.com

16 Wayne “Buck” Shelford

via andnowinsport.wordpress.com

15 Marcus Lattimore

via fitsnews.com

14 Shaun Livingston

via foxsports.com

13 Paul George

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

12 Anderson Silva

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

11 Kevin Ware

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

10 Joe Theismann

via nydailynews.com

9 Willis McGahee

via blogs.nfl.com

8 Steve Moore

via o.canada.com

Steve Moore was the victim of one of the most brutal cheap shots in NHL history. Late in a 3rd period matchup with the Vancouver Canucks, Moore's life would change when he was struck in the back of the head by Todd Bertuzzi. Earlier that season, Moore had delivered a devastating, yet fair, check to Marcus Naslund. The next matchup between Moore’s Avalanche and the Canucks occurred without incident. In the following matchup, Moore fought Matt Cooke in a fairly even scrap. In the late stages of that game, which was dominated by Colorado, Bertuzzi sought to provoke a fight with Moore and was rebuffed as the score was 5-0.

7 Richard Zednik

via sabres.nhl.com

6 Clint Malarchuk

via thefumble.com

5 Mike Utley

via grantland.com

4 Eric LeGrand

via lehighvalleylive.com

3 Dale Earnhardt – NASCAR

via carzz.co

2 Bill Masterton

via thestar.com

While in his first season with the expansion Minnesota North Stars in 1968, Bill Masterton paid the ultimate price for his sport. Masterton skated at full speed toward the Oakland Seals defense and was met with a check by Larry Cahan and Ron Harris. The hit sent Masterton flying backwards and caused him to land on his head. Like the vast majority of players during the era, Masterton was not wearing a helmet. He bled from his ears, mouth and nose while trainers rushed to help him.

1 Ray Chapman

via nytimes.com

Ray Chapman remains the only player to have ever died of injuries suffered because of being hit by a pitch. The incident occurred during an August 16, 1920 game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees at the Polo Grounds. Pitcher Carl Mays delivered the pitch, with his typical submarine delivery, which struck Chapman near the ear without Chapman attempting to move to avoid the pitch. According to accounts the impact sounded similar to it hitting a bat, which caused Mays to throw the ball to first base for the out. Chapman took a few staggering steps before collapsing as blood poured out of his ear. He died twelve hours later of a depressed skull fracture. The incident led to baseball banning the “spit ball” the following season.

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The 20 Worst Sports Injuries of All Time